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One of my friends bought this for my son on his 2nd birthday and he still plays with it and he is now just turned 3. The tracks all come separate so need to be put together but this only takes a matter of seconds. Each parts clicks on to one another and it can either be joined to make a loop or twist the pieces and it makes a long bumpy track.
The train is rather small but is of an ample size for young children to pick up. Once the funnel on the train is pressed is moves along the track making choo choo and whistle sounds and when the front of the train hits the barrier which can be placed on the track it automatically starts reversing. The train can be used separately from the track which is what my son does most of the time as he likes it going all across his room crashing into obstacle which he sets up. The train comes with 6 tracks all of which are different and one has an arch attached which has beads on it. A tunnel is also supplied which can be placed onto either of the tracks and two buffers which are used when the track is laid out at either end to make it drive and reverse along the track continually.
The tracks can be quite difficult for children to join and separate by themselves so my son did tend to need some help to do this. Also the train does not have an on/off switch so if the funnel is accidentally hit or knocked it will start making the noises. My son always kept his train in a storage drawer with all his other vehicles but every time he was getting another toy out the train would always go off so we now keep it on a shelf!
Whilst out shopping a while ago I came across the Tomy Choo Choo Loop in Argos and as I hadn't bought my son any new toys for a while I thought I'd buy it for him. Well actually I quite liked the look of the toy and wanted to play with it myself!
~~~ Product Description ~~~
Included in this toy is a small, battery operated train. This takes three 'AAA' batteries which are not included so don't forget to buy some if you are giving this as a present! There are six brightly coloured curved pieces of track each about 15cm long which clip together easily. One of the pieces of track has a loop running around it with coloured beads on it which I think is meant to represent a tunnel. There are two buffers which can be attached to any piece of track (more on the use of these later), and a sort of plastic arch which is apparently intended to be a station but looks more like a bus shelter to me!
The clever thing about this toy is that although there are only six pieces of track, it can be assembled in three ways:
1. The track can be formed in a circle so that the train makes the track move across the floor (imagine a hamster being set loose in its wheel and you'd get a similar effect).
2. You can attach one of the buffers supplied to the inside of the loop. Then when the train reaches the buffer it goes back the other way so the loop of track moves backwards and forwards on the floor, covering about a metre each time.
3. You can undo the loop and turn the pieces around to make a long, straight and bumpy line of track. If you attach the buffers at both ends, the train will happily run backwards and forwards up and down the track.
You start the train by pressing down on the funnel. The train then makes a 'Choo Choo' noise and then a 'Chug-a-chug-a' noise until it hits a buffer then it goes 'Choo Choo' again and so on. Unless you press the funnel again to switch the train off it will continue until its batteries run out.
~~~ Age Recommendation ~~~
The manufacturers state that this toy is suitable for children over one. I gave it to my son when he was eleven months old and he was perfectly able to play with it. I think that children may not get the full benefit of this toy until they are a bit older than a year because it is quite tricky to put the train on the track as you have to line the wheels up and younger children will be unable to do this themselves. However, if you set it all up for them and start the train going then they can enjoy watching it.
~~~ Quality and Safety ~~~
There do not appear to be any loose small parts on this toy that could pose a choking hazard to small children. The batteries are housed in a compartment which is held shut with a small screw so there is no risk of these coming out.
The toy seems relatively well made although the funnel on the train does wobble a bit from side to side. Given that it is this which switches the toy on and off I worry whether this may lead to the toy ceasing to work before much longer.
~~~ My Opinion ~~~
The noise this train makes is fairly loud and I quickly found that it became irritating. Unfortunately there is no way of turning the sound off or even turning the volume down so you sadly have to put up with it. My son hasn't yet worked out how to turn the train on and off and so he often manages to switch it on accidentally and then leaves it running so I have to keep tracking down where the noise is coming from so I can switch it off before the batteries get run down. I think it would have been a good idea if the train had a cut off timer so it only ran for a couple of minutes before switching itself off.
When I initially set up the toy for my son, I used some batteries that my husband had dug out from a box in the shed. I don't think that these had enough power for the train to run properly - it was fine running up and down the bumpy track but did not have enough power to propel the loop across the floor. Having changed the batteries it ran much better although it did still struggle with carpeted floors.
My son seems to enjoy playing with the pieces of track more than the train. Because they are nice and brightly coloured and one of them has rattly beads attached, he likes to take all the pieces of track apart and wave them around. He does seem interested when I make the train run over the track but this interest lasts for all of about thirty seconds before he gets distracted by another toy. I am hoping that he may grow into this toy.
I wouldn't really recommend this toy because although it seems quite versatile in that you can set it up in three different ways, I don't think it is really interesting enough to hold a one year olds attention.
~~~ Pricing and Availability ~~~
This product usually retails at £11.99 however it is currently available from Argos for £8.99.